Flight 370: Separating Silly from Sensible

Things are going from bad to worse on speculation about what happened to flight 370.  Not to be outdone by CNN, The Onion ran a story about how we’re now searching “space and time” itself to find the plane:

Following a host of conflicting reports in the wake of the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 last Saturday, representatives from the Kuala Lumpur–based carrier acknowledged they had widened their investigation into the vanished Boeing 777 aircraft today to encompass not only the possibilities of mechanical failure, pilot error, terrorist activity, or a botched hijacking, but also the overarching scope of space, time, and humankind’s place in the universe.

Really, is this too far removed from CNN?  On Sunday, CNN host Brad Meltzer asked a guest whether 370’s disappearance might be due to “supernatural” causes.  Clearly Meltzer has been watching too many Lost reruns.  Check it out:

Oh yeah, don’t forget that rocker Courtney Love thinks she’s spotted where the plane went down in the ocean.

One possibility that I haven’t heard discussed yet (though I don’t watch cable news 24/7 so maybe I missed it) concerns the reports that the plane rose to 45,000 feet and then dived quickly to 23,000 feet.  My understanding is that Israeli pilots are trained to make sharp ascents and descents of this description as a means of knocking hijackers off their feet and incapacitating them.  A hijacker might employ this idea as a way of pacifying the passengers or cabin crew.

While the hijacking and pilot suicide theories are intriguing, I still think we’re going to find out that Chris Goodfellow’s explanation at Wired.com, which John linked to previously, is going to turn out to be the real story: a freakish accident in mid-air that nonetheless allowed the plane to continue flying:

What I think happened is the flight crew was overcome by smoke and the plane continued on the heading, probably on George (autopilot), until it ran out of fuel or the fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed.

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